Out with the old and in with the new. That’s what Clemson will be doing on its defensive line this spring.
The Tigers had to said good-bye to All-Americans and team leaders Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant following their 44-16 win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game last month.
However, Clemson defensive tackles coach Todd Bates said hello to four defensive linemen—Logan Cash, Tyler Davis, Ruke Orhorhoro and Etinosa Reuben—after he got back from Santa Clara, Calif. The four players all enrolled in school in January and will participate in spring drills.
“I’m looking forward to all of those guys coming in,” Bates said. “They are going to be bringing a sense of hunger and new car smell to the room. Not saying that I am not going to miss the old guys because they were the best. They gave the example every day of what it is supposed to look like … leadership, the intangibles. That is what Nyles (Pinckney) and Jordan (Williams) got a chance to soak up this year.
“That was really big to let them see what it looks like before you go out and try to do it yourself.”
Davis, a 4-stat defensive tackle, was rated No. 60 overall player in the nation by ESPN and No. 74 by Tom Lemming. He had 34 tackles, including 14 tackles for loss and six sacks in 2018 for Wekiva High School in Apopka, Fla.
“He is just a complete defensive tackle,” Bates said. “His twitchiness, explosion off the ball, block recognition, knowing himself as a player and he understand his strengths and weaknesses as a player. I have not recruited a more prepared guy than that guy right there.”
Cash, from Winder, Ga., led the state of Georgia in sacks in 2017 with 23.5, to go along with 40 tackles for loss and 101 total tackles. He is the career leader at Winder–Barrow High School in sacks with 42.5.
“I’m just looking forward to him coming in and having that motor,” Bates said.
As a senior in 2018, Orhorhoro had 13 sacks and 22 tackles for loss to go with 60 tackles. He also scored a touchdown on a fumble return and helped his team to an 8-2 season. He played his high school football at River Rouge High School in Michigan.
Orhorhoro is the first Clemson signee from the state of Michigan since 1975.
Reuben finished 2018 with 62 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, including three sacks. He also recorded a safety. He finished his junior year with 55 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, including three sacks, two forced fumbles and one recovered fumble.
This past year, Reuben was nominated for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive lineman or linebacker in the Greater Kansas City area.
“All of these guys that we are bringing in have those intangibles and leadership qualities,” Bates said. “They do things right. They work hard. They’re going to be blue collar. That’s really what Clelin, Christian, Dexter, Austin and Albert (Huggins) brought to the table. So, when you lose that, you have to replace that with that and that is what we tried to do with these four guys.”